Photos: UFC Fan Expo Packs a Punch

Autograph sessions, job inquiries highlight Day One of annual MMA gathering at Mandalay Bay Convention Center

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Fanboys have Comic Con and ravers have Electric Daisy Carnival. MMA junkies? They’ve got the annual UFC Fan Expo.

Walking into the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on Saturday morning, I expected to see the usual: a lot of Tapout T-shirts worn by testosterone-filled, middle-aged males. And while there was plenty of that, I was surprised to see how diverse the UFC demographic has become. Along with the stereotypical “rabid MMA fan,” the Fan Expo attracted a large contingent of women, children and older adults. They came for the Q&A’s, video games, youth grappling tournaments, autograph signings and fighter training sessions, among other activities.

One of the highlights on opening day of the two-day Expo was the Q&A with UFC boss Dana White, who answered as many employment queries—“Will you take my business card?” “Can I have a job?”—as he did fight-related questions. By the time I got to the mic, he seemed thrilled that I actually wanted to talk shop, answering my fight questions as enthusiastically as a little kid who just received the best birthday present of his life. If White’s Q&A proved anything, it’s that the man who turned a niche sport into a global empire remains beloved by UFC fans.

In addition to the Q&As, fans perused dozens of kiosks carrying top-of-the-line apparel, while autograph stations featuring some of the UFC’s biggest stars drew scrums that looked like mosh pits. The line for Georges St-Pierre (my favorite fighter) was practically a mile long alone. While I didn’t get to meet Georges, just seeing him up close was a thrill. And GSP was just one of many fighters holding court: By midday, Cain Velasquez, Anthony Pettis, Diego Sanchez, Rashad Evans and T.J. Dillishaw all had huge crowds—with more to come Sunday.

MMA mania is at an all-time high right now, and if the energy and excitement displayed during the first day of the Fan Expo is any indication, that mania isn’t dying out anytime soon.

For more photos from the UFC Fan Expo, visit